Emily

The sun casts a river of amber glitter atop the slow-moving waves lapping the side of my kayak, nudging me gradually out from shore. A large white sea lion eyes me from atop the rectangular dock a handful of yards away. I glance to my left and see your mother grinning while your son paddles their kayak from between her legs. To my right, near a leaning madrone on the water’s edge, I sense your presence. Not more than a dozen feet away is your daughter, the one I held just days after she was born, the same days during which you passed to the other side. She is accompanied by your best friend and her daughters, and they are wading into the sound, shrieking and laughing as the cold water shocks their bare calves.

Earlier that day we visited a bridge tucked into the woods beneath old growth doug firs, a place I understand you held dear and your children truly love. I watched them explore their surroundings, finding rocks, tossing sticks into the creek and gathering fern fronds to build with. I remember doing the same things with my sisters when I was a little girl.

It’s been five years since I saw your family, and since you left us. As I drove up the 101 North toward your yellow beach house by the sound, I had an overwhelming feeling that you were near. It was strange and magical, and I cried my way to the driveway before gathering myself to knock on the door. The weekend that followed was filled with stories and laughter and porch sitting; I even taught the kids how to hula hoop on the lawn. Your children carry your features on their faces, and the glimpses I caught of you made my heart ache and soar all at once. I miss you all over again and yet, I am comforted by spending time with your loved ones and learning about the corners of earth you treasured most.

At dusk, I sat in a white lounge chair gazing out at the two islands on the horizon, and as I scanned the water, drawing my eyes closer to the shoreline, I had to close and open them again, disbelieving what I saw. It was you – a faint outline of a woman’s profile with her hair down, the cool saltwater cupping her shoulders as she gazed out to sea. And then minutes later, a flicker of light danced across the water beneath the sinking sun, and it was an orange buoy bobbing on the waves. But I’ll never forget that image of you skinny dipping at sunset in the place where I’ve been told you felt free and comforted all your life by nature, family, friends and traditions.

I want to think of you now like this poem reads – resting ashore where you are surrounded by the salt, soil, air and trees of your childhood; safe, at peace, having arrived at last.

On this wondrous sea
Sailing silently,
Ho! Pilot, ho!
Knowest thou the shore
Where no breakers roar—
Where the storm is o’er?

In the peaceful west
Many the sails at rest—
The anchors fast—
Thither I pilot thee—
Land Ho! Eternity!
Ashore at last!

-Emily Dickensen

 

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The Fruitful Search

Sleeves up ladies and gents, time to summon your bravest face, your unabashed belief that love still makes the world go round, and tie on your best walking shoes to keep. moving. forward. Congratulations, you’re on the fruitful search. The search for love; for meaning; for purpose. It’s going to feel like it’s “less”, not “full” sometimes.  There’s going to be bullshit and heartache and confusion. But there will also be grace, connection, and growth sitting patiently just waiting to be found.

You don’t have to do anything special for this to be true. You just have to be you.


The more I grasp, the less I can touch what’s real. The more I give thanks for, the more I can soothe what’s scared and the clearer I see what is. It’s funny how that works. This year, my 29th, has been a test of faith. Has yours been too? Well, join the club!

I’ve gotten tripped up, fallen down, made moves, revisited old wounds, learned to bounce back (again, and again, and again) each time, feeling a little closer to where I’m aiming to go.

The truth is, as long as you’re reading this and are breathing and alive and waking up each day, there are thousands of things that have gone right – way more than could have possibly gone wrong. Which brings me to the title of this little post. What I’ve learned in the past few months that I want to share with you is:

The search is always fruitful if you look at it through the lens of gratitude.

So much gained; so much that is good, right here, right now if you look closely.

Yes, losses too. But experiences are the fruit of all that hard work. And no one ever promised they’d all be peachy.

So, have you known grief? Have you ever fallen to your knees in reverence? Did you fall in love with the wrong one? Have you been moved to leap? Have you been called to listen? It’s all moving you forward, dear-heart; all the heartbreaking, joyous, enlivening, confusing, sweet, tender moments of life. THIS life. The only life you have to live!

Might as well dig in, dig out, dig deeper, or my personal favorite, just DIG IT!

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What Are the Chances

Today I heard that the probability of being born is about one in 400 trillion. With a chance that small to be who you are, your being alive is nothing short of a miracle! It turns out, I am not the only one curious about this statistic.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel The Signature of All Things, in which the main character is on a quest to understand the scientific laws of nature in the 19th century when much was not yet known. She talks of transmutation and competition, struggle as the catalyst for change in all species, and the constant unfolding of creation occurring all around us, often at a microscopic level, invisible to the naked eye.

And all this has got me thinking about the marvel of life.

It’s easy to forget that we’re here for a grand experiment – something that cannot be quantified by Facebook posts or Instagram photos. How often do we drive to work, eyes glazed over, ignoring the precious moment? Or hide from our fears of interacting with one another behind phones and headphones on the bus, in the coffee shop, or at the park? With so much forgetting how precious this being alive is, how do we  make use of this rare chance in 400 trillion that we’ve been given?

That’s the paradox of being human I suppose. We’re each so painfully and stubbornly at the mercy of our thoughts and emotions that it’s rare to be fully present for longer than a number of minutes, if not seconds. It’s like we’re blinking our way through life, opening to the miracle of being alive for brief moments of warming light, only to close our eyes once more to the night. We’re such strange creatures!

I am no less a blinking speck of stardust than the rest with one in 400 trillion chances that I’d be the human I am, born on March 9, to my mother and father. It’s certainly something to be grateful for. And yet, I am the first to admit I stumble often into the illusion that I’m all alone and that life is a series of painful events and challenges. It takes effort to right my ship and look at all the good around me. Often times, it takes a phone call or a hug to feel connected to the love of my friends and family again. It’s okay that it’s not easy. Maybe we’re designed for such a meandering range of awareness.

Nevertheless, it’s good to make the effort to think about all there is to be grateful for; it certainly helps bolster the soul. So tonight, when you reflect on your day before nodding off to sleep, keep in mind how rare and special it is that you get to be who you are in this very moment in time. You’re a miracle, a mystery, an ever-changing specimen of the human kind, and I’m so glad we get to be here together.

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